I live in suburban New Orleans and The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots has been on my "to be read" list for some time, so I grabbed it when I was offered a complimentary review copy by the Catholic Company. The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots is the memoir of Archbishop Philip Hannan, who was Archbishop of New Orleans from 1965 to 1988. Prior to that he served as an Auxiliary Bishop of Washington DC, where he was friends with the Kennedy family; indeed he was the preacher at John Kennedy's Funeral, and he celebrated Jackie Kennedy's funeral years later. Here in New Orleans he was a mover and shaker. He appeared regularly on the society page of the paper, and when the news media quoted the Archdiocese, they quoted him, not some paid PR person. After he retired as Archbishop he continued to appear on weekly television on Focus, a show he co-hosted with a former reporter for local TV stations. He had fallen out of the public view lately as he is in his nineties, and on the frail side, but he, along with our new Archbishop Greg Aymond, was in the Benson suite during last year's Superbowl. We have been praying for him at mass lately as he was recently hospitalized with a serious illness, but he is now in a nursing home recovering.
Archbishop Hannan has lived a fascinating life. As noted in the title, he served in WWII as a chaplain to a paratrooper division, and even jumped with the men. He was at Vatican II and knew the movers and shakers in Washington DC. He was one of the most powerful men in New Orleans for many years. All these parts of his life are described in great detail in this book--really too much detail for some things. I found myself skimming much of the book--it was like listening to an old man remember; some stories were fascinating, with others I just wanted him to get to the point. Still, overall, I'd say there was enough interesting to make it a worthy read. Grade: B